Friday, August 31, 2012

New York Mets family loses two pitchers, Myrick and Parker

A sad week for New York Mets fans, as the deaths of former pitchers Bob Myrick and Harry Parker were announced this week.

Parker was a right-handed pitcher for the New York Mets from 1973-75, pitching in three games in the 1973 World Series against the Oakland Athletics. Parker was the hard luck loser in Game 3, when catcher Jerry Grote dropped the third strike on Angel Mangual, allowing Mangual to reach base and advancing Ted Kubiak into scoring position. Kubiak scored during the next at-bat when Bert Campaneris singled him home for the winning run. Parker passed away on May 29th, 2012, but reports of his death only surfaced this week.

Myrick was a promising left-handed reliever out of Mississippi State University who pitched from 1976-78 with the Mets. Myrick was a favorite of Mets manager Joe Frazier, who brought the lefty to the big leagues after pitching for him in Tidewater the previous season. Myrick passed away August 23rd in Hattiesburg, Miss., after suffering a heart attack.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dwight Gooden's first career home run

Dwight 'Doc' Gooden's amazing talent as a pitcher with the New York Mets have been well heralded throughout the years; however, Gooden took tremendous pride in his prowess at the plate. He belted eight home runs during his career while finishing just below the Mendoza Line with a .196 batting average. The video below shows the first home run of Gooden's career, which came on September 21st, 1985 at Shea Stadium off of Rick Rhoden.

Courtesy of CourtsideTweets on Youtube -

Monday, August 13, 2012

Frank Evans, 90, played in the Negro Leagues and coached in the Cardinals organization

Frank Evans stayed with the game he loved until the day he died. The former Negro League player and longtime scout and coach for the Louisville Redbirds of the St. Louis Cardinals organization passed away August 3rd in Opelika, Ala., at the age of 90.

Frank Evans 1985 Louisville Redbirds Card
Evans began his playing career as a teenager in 1937 and stayed active well into his 40s, playing as an outfielder, first baseman, and catcher with the Birmingham Black Barons, Cleveland Buckeyes, and the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. After the color line broke, Evans batted .313 in a short stint with Class C minor league teams in Port Arthur and Borger, Texas in 1954 at the age of 32.

Well after he hung up his glove and cleats, Evans was recruited by major league All-Star and future big league manager Jim Fregosi to be his first base coach in Louisville for the 1984 and 1985 seasons. Infielder Willie Lozado who played under the tutelage of Evans in 1985, said via e-mail that he brought a great amount of spirit to the clubhouse.

"Frank was a good man that always had something positive to say," Lozado wrote. "He will be missed."

A few of Evans’ other prized pupils during that time were Vince Coleman, Terry Pendleton, and Jose Oquendo, all of whom would figure prominently in the Cardinals 1987 National League pennant-winning team.

A few years back, I called Evans at his home in Alabama to discuss his career in the Negro Leagues. My recorder wasn’t working, so I just tried to soak in his vast experiences the best I could. This was at the time of President Obama’s election, and Evans was enthusiastic about his chances, a far cry from the segregation he faced in his youth. He spoke of the long bus rides, hanging his uniform outside the window while traveling to the next city, all with the hope that they might be able to find a place that would feed them while they filled up for gas. Even with the harsh indignities that he faced as a player, Evans remained enthusiastic about the game, telling me of a baseball clinic he finished a few days ago.

As our conversation progressed and I told him that I still played, he even offered me the opportunity to visit him in Alabama to help with my swing. He assured me with a few days of work that he could turn around my fortunes at the plate. I kept his number in my phone, knowing that if I ever made it down that way, that I could grab some hitting advice that I could not only use but also pass on to my players. Even though I didn’t visit, the offer of help to someone he had just encountered on the phone only thirty minutes prior spoke volumes about his generosity and love for the game.

The Topps Company honored Evans in their 2009 Allen and Ginter set, providing him with his first nationally issued baseball card. Evans was once again in the spotlight, allowing him the opportunity to not only provide his autograph, but to further spread the word about the greatness of the Negro Leagues.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

R.A. Dickey teaches the tricks of the knuckleball at Citi Field Kids event

New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey has been prolific in spreading the word about his knuckleball this season, publishing his best-selling book, Wherever I Wind Up, and appearing in the Knuckleball documentary, which was a smash at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Wednesday afternoon, Dickey took a more local approach, conducting a clinic for over 100 kids at the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House in Long Island City. The event, which was hosted by SNY anchor Michelle Yu, was part of the Citi Field Kids program, an initiative formed by the Mets, Citi and the Jackie Robinson Foundation

Click here to see read more about Dickey's participation in the clinic as well a video interview with Dickey about the the impact of his book and his thoughts on being able to participate in the clinic.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Franco continues to represent as an ambassador for the New York Mets

John Franco is the epitome of New York baseball. Born and raised in Brooklyn, the Lafayette High School graduate went on to play at St. Johns University in Queens before being drafted by the Dodgers in 1981. Little did he ever imagine that he would play 15 years in the major leagues with the New York Mets and earn a spot in their Hall of Fame. Earlier this year, Franco was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in a wonderful ceremony at Citi Field. A few months later, he’s still amazed at the honor.

Click here to read Franco's thoughts on his induction into the Mets Hall of Fame, as well as that of his former teammate Barry Larkin into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.